Research Paper: Brady V Maryland and Other Due Process Cases

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¶ … Supreme Court cases have clarified that prosecutors must reveal evidence to the defense that could be favorable to the defendant. These cases have established legal precedent that governs such disclosure, and provided the underlying logical basis for it.

The 1963 case Brady v Maryland was one of the first to establish this rule. In this case, Brady and a companion were convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to death. The companion's name was Boblit. Brady admitted that he participated in the murder, but argued that Boblit had been the one who did the killing. In the original case, the Brady guilty plea was done asking the jury not to return capital punishment, but they did anyway. This is what precipitated the move by Brady, asking prosecutors to see Boblit's extrajudicial statements.

All but one of these statements was revealed. However, there was one statement in which Boblit admitted being the one who did the killing, but this was withheld by prosecutors until after Brady had been convicted and sentenced, and the conviction affirmed. Brady petitioned for a retrial on the basis of this newly-discovered evidence. The initial trial court ruling was against the petitioner, but the Appeals court ruled that the petitioner's right to due process was violated by this evidence being withheld. The Supreme Court sided with the Appeals Court, and ordered a retrial on the question of punishment. The Brady case was deemed "an extension of Mooney v. Holohan, where the Court also ruled on what nondisclosure of evidence violates due process.

The Brady case essentially strengthened Fifth Amendment protects for due process, by ensuring that evidence be entered, in particular that the prosecutors cannot withhold key evidence. The suppression of evidence favorable to the defendant was deemed a violation of the defendant's right to due process. The case has been used to discredit law enforcement officers where they have a history of lying or withholding evidence. The presumed credibility of law enforcement has been a tenet of court trials, but this case was one of the earlier instances where demonstrable actions by law enforcement in violation of the Fifth Amendment were noted. The credibility of other witnesses has also come into question as a result of this ruling -- even the suspicion that somebody might be withholding something can discredit a witness.

Giglio v United States was a 1972 case that built upon the foundation of Brady. In Giglio, the government prosecutors can promised leniency to a witness in exchange for that witness' testimony. In this case, there was only one key witness for the prosecution, Taliento. Federal prosecutors promised that Taliento would not face prosecution if he would testify at grand jury and trial for Giglio, with whom Taliento had committed ongoing bank fraud. Without Taliento's testimony, the case against Giglio would have been much weaker. However, the grand jury and trial jury were not informed that the prosecution had made such a deal.

It was held that the failure to inform the defense of this deal constituted a breach of due process. This was an… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Brady V Maryland and Other Due Process Cases.  (2016, April 7).  Retrieved August 19, 2019, from https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/brady-maryland-due-process-cases/7807904

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"Brady V Maryland and Other Due Process Cases."  Essaytown.com.  April 7, 2016.  Accessed August 19, 2019.
https://www.essaytown.com/subjects/paper/brady-maryland-due-process-cases/7807904.